One of my guilty pleasures is watching Mad Men on AMC. I guess it’s because it takes place in the 60’s and I am reminded of my pre-teen years. I know it is a male dominated show with women literally playing supportive and subservient roles but it does portray the era’s zeitgeist fairly accurately and perhaps gives us a clue why sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same, especially when it comes to women (with a few extraordinary exceptions) still playing supportive and subservient roles. It may be light years away, in a Twilight Zone time warp, but some of us are still stuck there.
Last week’s episode (May 12th) had a particularly chilling sequence. I won’t go into a lengthy synopsis, but the main character, a deeply disturbed and more than slightly sociopathic advertising exec named Don Draper, tells his mistress whom he has ensconced in a hotel room that she “exists ONLY for his pleasure” and orders her to remain naked in the bed waiting for his return. Gag reflex kicks in as I watch her dutifully obey.
My mind then turns to something I had previously read in one of Jamie Manson’s columns in NCR:
“The new pope maintained his and his predecessors’ belief in the “special” (but not equal) role of women in the church, telling the sisters that without them, the church “would be missing maternity, affection, tenderness.” He went on to tell them to put themselves “in an attitude of adoration and service.”
So my question is this: Is Pope Francis the ecclesiastical equivalent to the fictional Don Draper? Does he want to confine women religious (and by extrapolation, all women) to only subservient roles, stripping them of their God-given dignity and intrinsic self-worth? Moreover is the “attitude of adoration and service,” to which he tells them to put themselves, supposed to be directed toward God or toward the male hierarchy? Just asking for clarification here… because if it is latter, Mr. Draper would have nothing on Pope Francis.